Corruption and ethnic violence undermine peace deal

According to an investigative report by The Guardian newspaper in February 2019, South Sudan’s government has used over half of the funds meant for implementation of the peace deal to the renovation of politicians' homes The government had originally pledged more than $1.4 million to the peace fund but only deposited $400,000 into the account.

Edmund Yakani, executive director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organisation, a local civil society group said:

“The parties’ signatory to the peace deal say the implementation is slow due to a lack of funds but surprisingly they are allocating money to renovate public officials’ houses. So it’s disturbing when they then challenge donors for lack of interest [in funding] the peace deal.”

Meanwhile, on 19th January 2019, clashes began between the army and a rebel group known as the National Salvation Front in Equatoria state. Thousands of civilians fled from Equatoria state, seeking safety in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Over 8000 people have been internally displaced near the town of Yei.

In positive developments, on 9th February 2019, a three-day peace conference that brought together representatives from Jonglei and Eastern Lakes States ended with calls to end crimes along River Nile. Twic South County commissioner, Daniel Deng, said the two neighbouring communities resolved to end hostilities over the Nile River where conflicts often arise over fishing rights. Parties agreed to control the flow of weapons and ensure that consent from relevant authorities is provided prior to crossing each other’s waters.

In other good developments, on 11th February 2019, 119 children were released from an armed group in Yambio where they were associated with the South Sudan National Liberation Movement. There have been reintegration programs set up to assist children and their host families smoothly transition back into society. This release coincided with the International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers.

Expression

On 17th January 2019, judicial oversight over investigations into the disappearance of two South Sudanese activists in Nairobi was officially ended by the Kenyan courts. As previously reported on the CIVICUS Monitor, in 2017, Dong Samuel Luak, a prominent South Sudanese lawyer and human rights activist, and Aggrey Idri, a member of the political opposition were snatched off the streets of Nairobi. The activists' disappearance is believed by their families to be the result of collusion between South Sudan and Kenya, but both governments have denied having custody of the men or knowledge of their whereabouts. In April 2017, the two families had sought judicial review and an order to the police to investigate the disappearance of the two men more thoroughly, which resulted in the order for judicial oversight of police investigations. In delivering its ruling, the court stated that the police had acted “prudently and within the law.” The court said it is required to respect the police approach and timeline, and that families should pursue alternative administrative remedies such as filing a complaint with the Internal Police Oversight Authority.